How to Use Data-Driven Modeling for Interiors

More and more, you’re being asked as an interior architect to create 3D models and collaborate with other architects or consultants. Sticking with just 2D drawings may no longer be an option for you and your firm.

Creating data-centric models in Vectorworks Architect can provide a tremendous boost to the efficiency and accuracy of your next interiors project.

In this post, you’ll learn more about the advantages of data-driven modeling and the tools to help you create such models.

What are the Advantages of Data-Driven Modeling?

With data-driven modeling, you and your consultants can easily quantify exactly what's in your design.

 When you use smart objects and symbols in your file, you can automatically generate reports that list how many objects exist in said file. You’ll also be able to see what data is attached to the objects and symbols. Never will you have to manually calculate these kinds of reports again!

“Say you’re designing a kitchen,” said Sarah Barrett, a senior Architect product specialist. “If you’re just drafting in 2D, you’ll have to draw both the plan and elevation separately.”

Barrett continued, “If you’re using a 3D modeling, data-driven workflow, you can place cabinet objects in your plan. Then, you can automatically generate an elevation of your kitchen cabinets.”

By using the 3D modeling and documentation capabilities of Vectorworks you’ll be able to stay on schedule, have detailed reports, and present more to collaborators — all thanks to a single, data-rich file.

Tools for Data-Driven Modeling

There are several tools within Vectorworks that’ll help you adopt a data-driven workflow. Below, you’ll learn about smart objects and hybrid symbols with records.

Smart Objects

Smart objects — also known as Plug-in Objects — have semantics and property data such as manufacturer information, material information, acoustical rating, R-value, and more attached to them. 

Smart objects also provide you with editable parameters when designing an interior space. These parameters, in fact, drive the geometry of the object itself.

Here are just some examples of smart objects you can use:

Hybrid Symbols with Records

A hybrid symbol is a symbol that has both 2D and 3D geometry. Unlike smart objects, symbol geometry is created manually, not by parameters. The geometry is then saved as a resource that can be shared across multiple files.

Hybrid symbols are easy to create, and many already exist in Vectorworks. Some examples of hybrid symbols include:

  • Refrigerators
  • Couches
  • Chairs
  • Faucets

Once a symbol is created, you can attach a record to it. A record is a table of information that you can easily build within Vectorworks. They can hold any type of information you’d like attached to your hybrid symbols.

What Can I Do with Data-Driven Modeling Tools?

Now that you’re aware of smart objects and hybrid symbols, let’s dive a little deeper into what you can use these tools for.

Data Tags

Data tags are a form of smart objects that you can use to show data associated with your drawing objects. Any data that’s attached to your objects can be displayed using data tags. The image below uses data tags to label cabinet types and cabinet numbers.

Data Tags

Data Visualization

With data visualization, you can use all of the data you’ve been recording to help define the graphic details of your design. In Vectorworks Architect, you can use data visualization to ensure that your objects have the correct data.

In the image below, kitchen cabinets have been assigned data indicating which cabinets have been ordered and which are currently out of stock.  

Simply put, data visualization allows you to work in a more efficient, organized way.

Data Visualization


If you have smart objects, you can create a worksheet that extracts data directly from your model. This data could include price, SKU, object class, and more.

Many pre-built reports already exist in Vectorworks’ default content. These worksheet reports on the data from smart objects. Or, if your project requires, you can create your own custom reports in Vectorworks.

Reports are an essential part of completing an interiors project, so it’s a huge advantage to have reports be generated automatically!

Dive Deeper into 3D Modeling for Interiors

If this post has piqued your interest in 3D modeling for interiors — you’re in luck. Below is just a taste of interior-specific blogs we’ve featured on this blog:

For a free webinar on how building information modeling (BIM) processes can be adopted in a modern interiors workflow, click the button below. You can also click here to stay up-to-date on all things Vectorworks. 


Topics: Buildings


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